By Jim Orcutt, Co-Founder of My Brother's Keeper

These personal reflections on the Monday gospel represent my insight of Christ’s message as viewed through the lens of my life experience. It is my hope that others will be inspired to reflect upon their views as well.
Date: April 15, 2019
April 15, 2019

Gospel JN 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

Reflection:

“Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”

Reading how Mary “anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair” brings to mind the word, “prodigal” which means lavish. Lavish love, like that of the Father for his son in Luke’s story of the Prodigal Son. The father’s love for his son was “lavish,” boundless love.

Prodigal love calls us to give the very best we can give without thought of cost or embarrassment. In her love and gratitude for Jesus bringing her brother back to life, Mary used the most expensive ointment available and loosed her hair in public, an act of extreme immodesty.

The essence of love is selflessness: Out of love for the other, to have no thought of self.
In her love of Jesus, Mary had no thought of the expense and no concern for what others might think of her. Such is the love that God desires from us.

“Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.”

The opposite of love is selfishness. I do not judge Judas’ motives.
But clearly, his concern was not centered on Jesus. Instead, Judas felt a gift worth “three hundred days wages” was too “lavish,” too extravagant a gift for the Son of God.

Judas’ selfishness prompts me to ask myself, “Is there anything I possess that I would hesitate to give to Jesus as He prepared to endure the cross for me?”

So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

“Leave her alone.”
In other words, don’t distract from her loving act.
“Let her keep this for the day of my burial.”
Jesus could envision Mary anointing His body in the tomb.
“You always have the poor with you….”
So true. We see them on the sidewalk, staring, as we drive by.
“……but you do not always have me.”
Equally true. He is gone but His spirit is alive in our hearts.

“The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.”

Yes, they came “because he was there” but they also came because they wanted to see the miracle, the man Lazarus, “whom he had raised from the dead.”
It is human nature that we look for proof, not in a person’s words, but in their works. Even today, over two thousand years after Jesus’ resurrection, we run here and there every time we hear of a miracle. I am no exception. Forgive me Lord. “I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mk: 9-24)

“And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.”

The desire to hold fast to power and prestige has resulted in many an evil deed; none more evil than taking the life of the Son of God. But, though human flesh may be destroyed, it is impossible to kill the spirit.

Jesus came not to live forever among us, but through His resurrection, to assure us that our spirits shall live forever.

The beauty and majesty of Jesus Christ is that He willingly died for Judas and the Chief priests just as He died for you and me.

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5: 6-8



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